Back to the Past: Could Drive-In Cinemas in Spain Make a Comeback in the Post Covid-19 Climate?

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Credit: Cedida

Most industries, if not all, have been faced with the grand challenge of reinventing themselves in order to fit into this ‘new reality’ that we face as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which has now affected countries worldwide. However, could the film industry see a return to the past, as drive-in cinemas seem to perfectly adapt to our present circumstances.

SOCIAL distancing has been tough on the entertainment industries, as cinemas and theatres have all had to shut as a result of the coronavirus crisis in Spain. The possibility of opening is on the table but it will be limited to a third of customers than their usual capacity. However, in China, cinemas reopened after the Covid-19 crisis and were forced to close only three days later, proving that this return to normality is not as simple as it seems.

However, the open-air auto-cinemas like the ones prevalent in the 50’s and 60’s could offer an ingenious solution to the problem of social distancing and leisure. In Spain there are five cinemas of this style which are spread across the nation, in Alicante, Valencia, Gijon, Gexto and Madrid.

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In the capital city, Autocine Madrid Race has already began to reactivate their business “The reality is that we have a completely unprecedented situation and I am afraid to speak too soon on when we may reopen” says Tamara a member of the cinema.

“Our business model seems completely ad hoc for coexisting with this virus. Our clients come by car, and they do not need to leave it. They arrive, position themselves in front of the screen, tune in to the station and we even bring their dinner to the car, respecting the safety distances. There is no contact with employees or other customers. We have a competitive advantage, so we are witnessing a revival of drive-ins in the rest of the world,” she adds.


Despite their cinema being open-air, they too, have had to close and this “is affecting [them] like any leisure and entertainment company, like all those in the sector, with the addition that [they] are a young company, recently created, with debt on [their] backs.”

They explain that they have already sent out a letter to the ICAA Film Institute which explains that their business model is highly compatible with the measures needed to avoid contacting the coronavirus.


They have outlined that they will increase the security measures. For example, the restaurant will be closed, and food will only be served to customers in their vehicle. There will also be a two-person limit in the car, but they have taken into account families coming with children in which case they will have to sit at the back of the car.

For now, they have launched the sale of their first screening after the quarantine is lifted, although these tickets have not yet been set a date, they have seen a great amount of interests.

“At the request of the customers we are screening Grease, we have already put the tickets on sale, with no specific date, as they are waiting to know when we will open our doors. The tickets are flying and that evidences the fact that people are wanting to get out and do things and we believe that drive-ins are a possible alternative,” the cinema explained.





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